Sri Lankan police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekara said that gunfire was exchanged and three explosions took place during a raid in the city of Kalumnai carried out to nab suspects of the serial blasts, CNN reported.
The gunfire broke out during a security operation in the Sainda-Marudu area of the city of Kalmunai, police said. A cache of explosives used to produce bombs was seized from a house during a raid in Sammanthurai. ISIS uniforms, ISIS flags, 150 Gelignite sticks, 100,000 ball bearings and a drone camera were also found, the report said.
Nine suicide bombers carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels on the Easter Sunday, killing 253 people and injuring over 500 people. The Islamic State claimed the attacks, but the government has blamed local Islamist extremist group called National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ for the attacks.
Hours after the deadly blasts, police launched a manhunt to nab the perpetrators and so far arrested over 70 suspects, including five women.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had on Thursday warned of “sleeper cells” that might launch more attacks in the island nation.
President Sirisena had said earlier today, “Information is that around 130-140 ISIS suspects are in the country. Around 70 are arrested, we will arrest them all very soon ending this (terror.”
Police said that over 70 suspects, including five women, have been arrested as the Lankan authorities have intensified their search operations with the help of the army.